Chronicles

Orimulsion and Goodbye Herbie

        Late in November, the provincial government and the New Brunswick Forest Products Association released the findings of a major study they had jointly commissioned. The study is entitled New Brunswick Crown Forests: Assessment of Stewardship and Management and was conducted by the Finnish company Jaakko Poyry Consulting. The study considers the potential of New Brunswick's Crown Lands to yield increased harvests while maintaining current standards of environmental integrity and genetic diversity.

        In essence the study examines two periods of future forest management. It recognizes that any improvements in forest management which begin to be implemented now will take until about 2035 to realize increased production goals. By logical extension, then, it also acknowledges that between now and 2035 there will be some decisions to make which could, at the very least, be considered controversial and contentious. For the moment, I think that the most important thing to consider is that Natural Resources Minister Jeannot Volpe, has committed himself and his government to extensive public hearings before making any policy decisions on the report. Needless to say, I am going to be returning to this study and its implications.

        On another front, I was extremely interested in the news story last week about NB Power's having to shift the Dalhousie Thermal Plant back to Bunker C oil because current political unrest in Venezuela has caused an interruption in supplies of Orimulsion. The irony behind this story is almost too sharp to be believable. Six months ago, NB Power was wrapping up a successful campaign to convince the government to allow it to convert the Coleson Cove Generating Station outside of Saint John to Orimulsion. One of its selling points was that the fuel was cheap, abundant - and from a reliable source. In fact, NB Power spokespeople stressed that last point as an argument against Nova Scotia natural gas, the implication being that While everyone knew that Venezuela was politically and economically reliable, we could not be sure about that radical government in Nova Scotia. Given the political history of so many countries in South America, and given that the current political situation in Venezuela seems headed for greater unrest, the deal for orimulsion looks even less attractive than it ever did.

        Finally, I have to mention, for these of you who have read this column over the years, that my faithful companion in many of the small adventures I have mentioned in that time died just before Christmas. Herbie would have been fifteen this coming spring. I still find myself looking for him whenever I step out the back door. Even recently, slow and stiff as he had become, he was still interested in accompanying me on my frequent rambles over the property or whenever he could convince me to take him along for a ride in the truck.

        To say that I will miss him is an understatement.

        This article appeared in the Campbellton Tribune, in Mike's "Grains of Sand" column. It is reproduced with Mike's permission.

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